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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP in Fighting Spirit at Spanish Season Closer


Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi came out fighting in today’s two free practice sessions at the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo. The pair set a blistering pace from the outset and secured first and eighth place respectively in the combined session times.

This weekend holds great significance for Lorenzo, as it marks his last appearance for Yamaha. The Mallorcan is set on finishing his nine-year run on the YZR-M1 on a high and made his intentions clear when he took over at the top of the leaderboard just 15 minutes into FP1 and held the position for a large part of the session. With a few further tweaks made to his bike’s setting, he upped the pace at the end of FP1 and dropped a 1’31.045s to reclaim first place in the final minutes.

The local hero carried his speed straight into the afternoon session, leading from the start. When his rivals upped the pace at the end of FP2, Lorenzo didn’t hesitate to respond. The last ten minutes then became a flurry of activity but the Spaniard had the last laugh when he delivered an impressive 1’30.463s, the first lap under the 1’31 mark of the weekend, to finish first in the combined times. He was 0.247s faster than his closest rival.

Rossi had a less than desirable start to the Valencia Grand Prix. Unable to complete his out lap due to technical issues he returned to the pit box. Putting the small detour through the paddock behind him, the Doctor was back on his way on his second bike a quick ten minutes later to start his quest for the perfect setting. He consistently improved his pace when switching back to his first bike and wrapped up the session in second place, 0.387s behind his teammate, with a 1’31.432s lap.

Rossi got straight down to business in the second practice, holding third on the timesheets for most of the session whilst working on improving the feeling with the bike with the harder tyres. In the final stages of FP2 he was sitting in fifth place when the lap times tumbled. The Italian was able to better his morning time when he put in the softer option and finished in eighth place in the combined times with a 1’31.257s, 0.794s behind his teammate.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Today has been mixed for us. On the one hand we can be very satisfied that we are leading the way with Jorge since FP1. He is determined to make this weekend unforgettable and he’s already working in the right direction with his bike’s set-up and he looked very confident during the runs. Valentino had an issue with his bike this morning, so we lost some valuable time there, which partly affected their schedule. Vale started well in the morning and took second place, but in the afternoon he suffered from a lack of grip at the beginning of FP2 with the harder rear tyre and was unable to ride the way he wanted. When he put in the softer option his feeling improved. For sure they are going to work and better the areas where he suffered and we are confident we can make another step for tomorrow’s FP3.”

Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 1’30.463 / 38 laps

“I feel very good and I think the tarmac has a lot of grip. Michelin brought very good tyres for the front and the rear. We tried the new front and it’s different; it has more movability in the corner and the rear has a lot of grip and it warms up quickly. I felt good with it. Finally we put in the soft rear tyre to see if it is possible and better to use for qualifying and we saw that it’s clearly better than the hard one and I set a good lap time, so I’m satisfied. For the moment we have started the last weekend with Yamaha in the best way possible: first and first. Marquez is very strong too and Viñales is very fast as well, it will be very close on Sunday if it’s a dry race, but we are not sure because the weather is uncertain.”

Valentino Rossi
8th / 1’31.257 / 41 laps

“We had a small problem in the bike but it’s OK. We just stopped to not create any bigger problems, but it’s good. This morning at the end of practice it wasn’t so bad, I finished in second place. In the afternoon I had a problem, because we tried the harder tyres that are supposed to be the tyres for the race, but I didn’t have grip and I wasn’t fast enough. At the end I put in the soft and improved my lap time, but anyway the balance of the bike is not OK, I’m not happy with the setting so we have to work and try to make it better.”

Espargaro opens Valencia account with strong run to 4th

Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro ignited his charge to complete the last round showdown in a top tier position by finishing the first day of action as the leading independent rider aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. The young Spaniard kicked off his campaign by concluding the opening shakedown with an impressive run to 5th as he began the initial setup work in preparation for the round 18 battle. His performance left him confident for the afternoon and here, the 25-year-old consistently improved his pace around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo before he powered to a personal best on his 19th lap. This time saw him finish only 0.537 back from the top of the timesheets, which marks a solid start on home soil and tomorrow, he determinedly aims to continue the positive form.

Bradley Smith thoroughly got to work with his Valencia GP programme as he commenced his preparation for the last round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship. The 25-year-old, who will end his six-year partnership with Tech3 this weekend, jumped into gear when FP1 started as he evaluated various tyre options to suit his MotoGP bike to the meandering Valencia circuit. The British star powered on in the afternoon, as he undertook 20 laps whilst he focused on gathering information for the race setup and his best time from the session left him nine-tenths of a second from the top ten. After making valuable progress today, Smith intends to carry on the positive work tomorrow and then clinch a strong qualifying position for his last appearance aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 on Sunday.

Pol Espargaró
4th / 1’31.000 / 43 laps

“Today was a very promising start to the weekend and I’m happy as well as satisfied. It’s been a long time since I have enjoyed riding my Yamaha this much, so it’s a shame that we had to wait until the last race to do so. With regards to the tyres, Michelin went back to the old carcass that they used at the beginning of the season and these tyres have a lot of rear grip. At this track, we can use it with a different compound and the truth is that we have improved our grip level a lot and the whole bike is working really well. Moreover, this circuit suits my riding style and Yamaha has always been strong here. Therefore it has been a very good first day with many positives and now we will try to continue our progression tomorrow in order to produce a great showing in qualifying for what will be my last race with Tech3.”

Bradley Smith
19th / 1’32.280 / 39 laps

“In general, today has been busy, but positive and we know which direction we are heading towards. Both the circuit and the setup is a lot different from what we experienced 12 months ago here so we changed several things on the bike over the course of the day in order to get the right balance. I was actually quite content with my pace on the hard rear tyre because I was running in 12th and close to the other Yamaha riders. I believe that if we had used the soft compound at the end of the session, then I may have been able to get into the top ten. Moreover, this afternoon, I decided that it was important to work on the race setup of the bike and check all of the options. Corner entry is the main focus for the minute, as well as rear grip, yet I believe that this will come with the softer tyre option. We tested a lot of tyres today, including the new profile front, which seems to be positive. At the moment, we have two bikes which have slightly different settings, but I feel quite comfortable on both and we’ll keep working to improve further, and after a non-stop day today, I am confident and looking forward to tomorrow.”

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